Beijing asks the U.S. to back down on other issues if it wants cooperation with the climate change effort.
China, renowned for pollution and as a significant source of global greenhouse gases, had been recognized as a critical player in the U.S. plan to have world leaders commit to its project of cutting down methane gas emissions.
Consequences of climate change have started to strike hard in recent years, including relentless wildfires, flooding, and destructive heatwaves.
China leads the world in producing the most methane gas emissions, with 27% in 2019. The second name of the list is the United States, with 11%.
However, Beijing would not agree to follow the American-led effort unless the U.S. stopped pressuring China on other issues.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday, Sept. 16, made it clear what the conditions for the Communist country’s cooperation were: the U.S. must stop edging on it for other issues, including human rights abuses that target minority and religious groups.
“With their military aggression in the South China sea, with their continuation of genocide in Xinjiang province, with their violation of cultural, linguistic, religious priority of Tibet, with their suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, and other parts of China as well…,” Pelosi said, according to NationalReview.
“The situation with China is tightening, it’s getting worse,” she said.
China has been under international criticism over genocide against the Uighur Muslim minority and other religious and spiritual groups. Researchers discovered concentration camps on satellite photographs in the Xinjiang area where the Uighur people reside.
Survivors of these camps had reported torture, systematic rape, forced labor, forced sterilization, forced organ harvestings, and many other crimes.
Human rights abuse was among the few items upon which both rival U.S. Presidents shared the same views. Picking up from his predecessor, Biden had sternly imposed more sanctions against Chinese officials linked to religious and minority oppression.
The U.S., as well as other world leaders, had pledged climate pollution neutrality in 2050. But, according to Reuters, the Biden administration has also set out a new ambitious goal to trim down 52% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
President Xi Jinping of China has stated that China will reach peak climate pollution by the end of this decade and become climate pollution neutral by 2060. This is a decade longer than the U.S. and other world leaders had pledged.
With the U.S.’s strong desire to cope with climate change, it appears that China has grabbed the U.S.’s tail.
“The balance of power and influence of the two sides has changed,” said Zou Ji, the president of Energy Foundation China who was part of China’s delegation at the 2015 Paris talks, according to Reuters.
According to the New York Times, China and the U.S. reached an agreement on the climate crisis, but details of that negotiation had not been disclosed.
“It’s very important for us to try to keep those other things away, because climate is a life-or-death issue in so many different parts of the world,” said U.S. climate envoy John Kerry who had been in China to discuss the climate crisis.
Critics had warned against trading reduce in gas emission with human rights abuse in China.
“Those of us who live in Beijing’s shadow know there’s nothing “progressive” about turning a blind eye to its abuses,” wrote journalists Alex Chow, Jessica Leung, and Jeffrey Ngo in an op-ed published on Slate.
Speaking of U.S. officials picking up from China’s conditions, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, co-author of the bipartisan Uyghur forced labor bill grilled “single-minded focus on climate led them to downplay the genocide in Xinjiang,” according to The Associated Press.